Sojourner Tours

A boutique tour company specialized in gastronomic sojourns in France. Go beyond the typical tourist trip: immerse yourself in French culture and discover authentic places loved by the French.

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Book early. SPACE IS ALWAYS LIMITED.

Groups are kept to eight guests so you can visit authentic places, stay in charming boutique hotels and eat in the real restaurants where locals dine. 

CASTLE sojourn in southwestern france

(stay in an authentic French castle)

STARTING 2019  

(7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS)

Take advantage of our low prices in 2019 & 2020!

2019  **PRICE $1,995 (Taxes included. Must book before February 15th.)

DATES:   June 10-16, (June 17-23  private group)

2020 **PRICE $2,500 (Taxes included.Must book before February 15th.)

DATES:  June 2-8, June 9-15, June 16-22, June 23-29

ENJOY THE LUXURY OF WALLET-FREE TRAVEL: Read more about the all-inclusive price.

**Traveling alone: add $500 for a private room (rates are based on double room occupancy).

(Minimum Age: 21 .)

With this sojourn, guests will have the amazing experience of spending a week in a historic French castle. From that base, they will take daily excursions to explore the most charming places of the surrounding area, shop in outdoor markets and eat like a resident of the Perigord region of France!
— Lisa (Sojourner Tours Owner & Guide)

Live your own fairy tale vacation in the Périgord region in Southwestern France by staying in a real castle, or chateau (French for castle)! The Périgord is well-known among the French not only for being the land of one thousand castles (the approximate number of castles found in that region), but also for its dramatic natural settings, for its cobblestone eagle nest fortified Medieval villages, for its monumental caves, and for its delicious regional cuisine. Castles are the signature of this tour as you will encounter them at every turn during your sojourn, in addition to living in one!

Did you ever wish you had a friend in France whom you could go visit? Now you do! The owners of Sojourner Tours, Lisa & Francis, will be the friends you wished you had (but haven't met yet) as they host you and your small group of fellow sojourners in a countryside castle. They'll invite you to experience "living like a local" in the Périgord . Each morning you'll enjoy a typical French breakfast with fresh bread and croissants from a local bakery.  Then, you'll go on a day-trip with them to explore their favorite villages and sights in the region. You'll shop in local markets. You'll go wine tasting. And, each evening you'll have time to relax at the castle while they prepare a light dinner featuring local produce and specialties for you. Some evenings you might like to relax in the castle's gardens, other nights you might unwind with a glass of wine, and there may even be an evening when you decide to pop in the kitchen to pick up some French recipes

On this sojourn you'll unpack your bags in an unexpected corner of the countryside where you can get away from the fast paced life and really enjoy the slow pace of the French countryside. Each day you'll head out on excursions that go beyond the typical tourist experience: your hosts have selected a collection of their favorite spots in the area to share with you.  These places range from the famous Medieval city of Sarlat and villages with the official title of "Most Beautiful Village in France", to places that many French people don't even know exist because they are tightly guarded local secrets. If you are looking to really get away from it all and immerse yourself in French culture for a week, this sojourn is for you.

(Be sure to look at the detailed itinerary below the highlight section)

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

You'll be based in an authentic, historic castle! Sojourning in one place for the whole trip means you can unpack your bags and make yourself at home for a relaxing trip without having to repack or change accommodation. Some of the highlights of this sojourn include:

  • A focus on discovering no less than six of region's "most beautiful villages in France": charming remote villages which are inaccessible by public transportation;
  • Visits to traditional artisans and producers of local specialties including: wine, cheese and truffles;
  • Shopping in a traditional outdoor market;
  • An (optional) leisurely canoe ride downriver along dramatic cliffs, ancient villages and Medieval castles;
  • Enjoying the French lifestyle in authentic restaurants, cafes and historic town centers;
  • Tours of historic monuments including Medieval villages and castles;
  • Laid-back breakfasts and dinners served family-style at your very own castle;
  • A visit to a monumental cave that includes a boat ride on an underground river;
  • A lavish meal in a Michelin star restaurant in a beautiful location.

YOUR HOSTS

You will be hosted by Lisa Gustavson (owner, founder and CEO of Sojourner Tours) and/ or Francis Mathieu (Sojourner Tours co-owner)

Francis Mathieu (Sojourner Tours Co-Owner)

Francis Mathieu (Sojourner Tours Co-Owner)

Lisa Gustavson (Sojourner Tours Founder)

Lisa Gustavson (Sojourner Tours Founder)


YOUR BASE

Your base will be a countryside castle somewhere in the off-the-beaten path Périgord backcountry. This is stunning region of France where few American tourists venture. The exact location of the castle will depend on the size of your group and the castles available at the time you make your reservation: PLEASE RESERVE EARLY. 

The generous geography and history of the Périgord, the area where you'll be staying, make it a beautiful, unspoiled region rich in patrimony and natural wonders. It has also remained culturally authentic. Throughout France, the Périgord is noted for its delicious regional cuisine, especially its duck products and its cheeses. It is also known as a center for black truffle mushrooms in France. Although it is in the South of France, it is not an arid region with a Mediterranean climate, but a lush and green one.

The Périgord is a landlocked rural area of southwestern France devoid of any big city. It is situated about 2 hours east of Bordeaux and 2 hours north of Toulouse.

 

MEALS

You'll be living like a local, enjoying typical French breakfasts and dinners served "buffet" style at your castle where you can eat together with the group in the dining room or on the terrace --or even find yourself a private spot for some "me" time.

Breakfasts typically consist of a cup of tea or a  bowl of either cafe-au-lait or hot chocolate accompanied by fresh bread and viennoiseries including croissants from a  local bakery. You will also have a selection of yogurt, cheeses, meats and fresh fruit as well as juice to compliment the typical fare.

 Lunches are exciting and full of variation! Lunch is the main meal of the day in France, so this will be your most substantial meal of the day and it will be fun and different each time... You'll have two days when you can explore and eat wherever you want. There will be one day when you shop in a local market with the group to buy local  specialties and produce for an outdoor picnic. One day you will go to a lavish restaurant beloved by the locals. And, the last day, you'll go to a fancy gastronomic restaurant which was awarded one Michelin star (one of the most sought-after culinary distinctions in the world).

Dinners are made from scratch by your hosts at your castle in a very traditional French spirit. Before dinner, Lisa and Francis will put out some nibblies and drinks so you will have the option of relaxing with an aperitif while your meal is prepared. French dinners are typically light meals, somewhat like American lunches. Lisa and Francis will prepare an array of high-quality local items including fresh vegetables, meats, a cheese platter, breads and sometimes soup, pasta or French Tabbouleh made with couscous. You'll be able to assemble a sumptuous meal to your liking. You are always welcome to pop in the kitchen where your hosts will teach you the secrets of making a French vinaigrette, and their other recipes.

Croissant for breakfast

Croissant for breakfast

Refined cuisine from a Périgord restaurant.

Refined cuisine from a Périgord restaurant.

Enjoying French wine at the castle

Enjoying French wine at the castle


CASTLE sojourn itinerary

Sunday:

Arrive at Your castle

DETAILS:

Example of a castle

Example of a castle

AFTERNOON: upon arrival, you can settle into your room in a genuine historic castle. While other guests are still arriving, you can explore on your own or relax in the castle with a cup of espresso or tea.

RECEPTION & DINNER: In the evening, you will get together with your hosts and the rest of the group to celebrate the beginning of the sojourn French-style with a typical apéritif at 6:00 pm. You will then enjoy a laid-back dinner prepared by your hosts.


Monday

 Three Off-The-beaten-Path "Most beautiful villages in France"

 Very light physical challenge: 2-3 miles of urban walking

Recommended clothing: "dressy casual" with city walking shoes.

Collonges-la-rouge and other medieval villages

Your first daytrip is a voyage back to the Medieval period and an immersion in the local history. Your main destination, the historic and splendid village of Collonges-la-Rouge, is entirely built of red sandstone. The excursion will also include two more remote villages that stand out for their exceptional beauty, charm and historical significance. 

One of France's treasured "Most Beautiful Villages", Collonges-la-Rouge is actually the place where this concept was born, making it the mother, so to speak, of all most beautiful villages in the entire country. It could very well be the finest in allof France. This village is so far from all metropolitan centers that few non-Europeans get to visit it.

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Restaurant in Collonges-la-Rouge

Restaurant in Collonges-la-Rouge

Details:

Collonges-la-Rouge

Collonges-la-Rouge

MORNING: You will first travel to a remote hilltop village bearing the official title "Most Beautiful Village in France" where you will visit the eagle nest Medieval castle. You will then have free time to explore the rest of this cobblestone village at your own pace.

LUNCH: A short drive will take you to Collonges-la-Rouge, another remote "Most Beautiful Village in France" where you will first enjoy sophisticated French food in a fine restaurant.

AFTERNOON: Following your meal, you will enjoy free time to visit this historical jewel. You will then meet back with the group to take another short drive to a third stunning remote village bearing the coveted but rare title of "Most Beautiful Village in France". This village owes part of its charm to its to its numerous Medieval towers and turrets. There you will have free time to explore this special place on your own. You will then return to the castle where you will relax, enjoy the gardens, or have a glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner.

DINNER: You will have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines at the castle.


TUESDAY

EXPLORING THE medieval heritage along the scenic dordogne river

Light to moderate physical challenge: 2-3 miles of village walking and paddling in a canoe

Recommended clothing: “casual” with athletic shoes .

domme & laroque-gageac

The Dordogne river in the Périgord region is lined with an incredible number of ancient villages and dramatically situated castles or chateaux. Several of these villages bear the official title "Most Beautiful Village in France". Each has a distinct character, such as Domme, which is a bourgeois village perched atop a mountain with sweeping views over the lush area and the Dordogne river below.

Laroque-Gageac, also one of France's "Most Beautiful Villages", is the kind of breathtaking site that all French people dream of visiting but that few ever get to see because of its remote location. Its unique topography makes Laroque-Gageac stand out: it looks like the village has been carved out of the rock cliff that precipitously towers above it, while the Dordogne river runs along the entire length of this majestic village.

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DETAILS:

Laroque-Gageac

Laroque-Gageac

MORNING: Your day will begin in one of France's "Most Beautiful Villages": Domme. It is a lovely hilltop village where you can let yourself be seduced by the panoramic views over the Dordogne river, the pedestrian streets, and the overall charm of this fortified village. You'll arrive early enough to stroll around, pop in a few places like the church, or perhaps a shop or art gallery.

LUNCH: (FREE CHOICE) You'll be free to find the restaurant of your choice in Domme. Options range from simple cafes to a fine restaurant with a terrace overlooking the valley below.

AFTERNOON: After lunch, you'll head to the stunning cobblestone village of Laroque-Gageac, yet another one of France's "Most Beautiful Villages".

  1. OPTION: Join your guide for an easy 2-hour canoe ride on the Dordogne river past scenic Medieval villages and castles.
  2. OPTION: Take a shorter ride in one of the traditional wooden boats that used to ferry goods back and forth on the river.
  3. OPTION: Skip the rides and enjoy spending all your time exploring the village.

After everyone has had a chance to at least take a peek at the village, you'll return to the castle to relax, enjoy the garden, or have a glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner. 

DINNER: You will have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines at the castle.


Wednesday

A medieval city, truffles & wine

Moderate physical challenge: steep staircases and cave hiking

Recommended clothing: “casual” with athletic shoes .

sarlat

This attractive town is renowned throughout France for its well restored Medieval & Renaissance architecture. The main attraction here is simply to get oneself lost in the maze of winding cobblestone streets to soak in the Medieval surroundings, to take in the marvelous historic heritage, and to pop into some of the numerous boutiques.

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Sarlat

Details:

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MORNING: Wednesday is the perfect day to visit Sarlat because it is Grand Market day with the town's traditional outdoor market in full swing in the morning. You will have free time to explore the market as well as the famed historic district at your own pace. This is a great opportunity to buy local crafts and souvenirs. 

LUNCH: (FREE CHOICE) You'll be free to select your own restaurant for lunch. There is no end to the excellent options in Sarlat.

AFTERNOON: After lunch, you will head to a nearby village where an old-fashioned black truffle farm is located. There you will learn about this rare French delicacy and enjoy a tasting. Then you will head to a vineyard in the same village where you learn about and sample the local wines. After that, you'll return to the castle to relax, enjoy the garden, or have a glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner. 

DINNER: You will have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines at the castle.


THURSDAY

medieval eagle nest castle & the suspended gardens of marqueyssac

 Light to moderate physical challenge: 2-5 miles of urban walking

Recommended clothing: “dressy casual” with city walking shoes.

castelnaud & marqueyssac

Castelnaud is one of the most famous Medieval fortresses in France. It occupies a panoramic hilltop with commandeering views over the surrounding valleys and the Dordogne river. The picturesquely restored castle houses a museum of Middle Age warfare and features reconstructions of siege machines.

One of the most beautiful and impressive parks in France, the suspended gardens of Marqueyssac are famous for their 150,000 boxwood trees carved in fantastic shapes. The park, designed for walking, is situated on a spur which overlooks the entire Dordogne Valley and reveals a spectacular panoramic view. It also features a castle, many other species of trees and bushes, a stream and a cascade.

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Details:

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MORNING: You will head to the fortress of Castelnaud to tour its fortifications, its museum, and Medieval war machines and to enjoy its sweeping views. A short drive will then take you to the Gardens of Marqueyssac.

LUNCH: You'll have lunch at the Gardens of Marqueyssac's bucolic restaurant.

AFTERNOON: After lunch, you'll be free to wander though the vast gardens at your own pace and enjoy the panoramic viewpoints that dot the park. There are three main paths to follow. You will then return to the castle to relax, enjoy the garden or have a glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner.

DINNER: You will have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines a the castle.


friDAY

A french "lord of the ring" experience

Moderate physical challenge: steep staircases and cave hiking

Recommended clothing: “casual” with athletic shoes .

Padirac is an impressive cave system that buroughs about 10 storeys deep into the ground. At the bottom of the cave lies an underground river on which visitors enjoy a quite unique boat ride. Other features include monumental rooms and rock formations.

Rocamadour's breathtaking Medieval architecture will transport you right into a Lord of the Rings movie. It is at once: a Medieval village stretched along a single marvelous cobblestone street; and a complex of astonishing centuries-old religious buildings. Its nine churches and other Christian monuments seem suspended in the air as they cling to a spectacular rock cliff in which they blend. Panoramic staircases connect all the buildings and take amazed visitors from the street below all the way to the top of the cliff. On their way up, they have multiple opportunities to take breaks to pop in churches or enjoy numerous viewpoints to take in the astonishing panoramas.

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Michelin-star Chateau de La Treyne restaurant

Michelin-star Chateau de La Treyne restaurant

details:

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MORNING: A scenic drive through the countryside will take you to the monumental Padirac cave. You will take a guided tour of this natural wonder which includes a surprising 15-minute boat ride on its underground river.

LUNCH: A special treat awaits you as you will have a refined lunch in a luxurious gastronomic restaurant located a short distance from the cave in a beautiful village. This distinguished establishment housed in a lovely castle (yes, another one!) boasts a Michelin star (one of the most sought-after distinctions in the culinary world).

AFTERNOON: Following lunch, you will head to Rocamadour, which is one of France's most famous "Most Beautiful Villages". In the Middle Ages, this place was a major pilgrimage center. You will first enjoy exploring the numerous shops tat line the single Medieval cobblestone street at the foot of the cliff. You will then start climbing up the stairs to explore the incredible Medieval religious complex that clings to the rock cliff. You will enjoy the stunning views and historic buildings at your own pace.

On our way home, we'll stop at a traditional farm in the countrysidejust outside Rocamadour which makes the old-fashioned goat cheese that bears the name of the village.  You will tour the facilities, see the goats, and get to sample this cheese, which is famous throughout France.

You will then head back to the castle where you can relax, enjoy the garden, or have a  glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner.

DINNER: The meal will be preceded by an aperitif featuring the most festive of French beverages: real Champagne! You will then have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines at the castle.


SATURDAYFAREWELLS

Luberon, France: Sojourenr Tours

DETAILS:

End of the tour.

Breakfast at the castle.

Departure.


SOJOURNERS: AT HOME IN THE WORLD